In which Lily gets a glimpse into her new friend's life, reflects on her relationship with Wizard Lenin, and unintentionally sets into motion a disastrous chain of events.
Last time, Ash and his friends finally arrived in Saffron City, only to be met by a strange girl in white.
While Ash, Misty, Brock, Lenin, and all the others presumably made it to the city, Lily's spirit was ejected from her body and sent to the mysterious laboratory where she met the unnamed mysterious pokémon disguised as a man.
This being their first fully lucid meeting, Lily discovered that the strange man might be one of the few pokémon with the ability to return her and Wizard Lenin home, making Viridian City their next obvious destination.
Caught between her sense of duty and the desire to help her oldest friend, Lily debates keeping Viridian City as the last destination on their tour of Kanto so she can earn gym badges, respect, and world peace.
Taking a detour from returning to her abandoned body, she and the man now embark for Viridian City where he'll show the dubious Lily how he trains and who he's training under.
It wasn't quite the Viridian City Lily remembered.
Then again, Lily was no stranger to memories, the mind, and how reality was reflected inside it.
In her own head she imagined Viridian City would be dominated by that ill-fated pokémon center and the mushroom cloud that had consumed it when Pikachu had let loose. They hadn't stuck around too long after that, afraid Nurse Joy or Officer Jenny would start asking them to foot the property damage bill since Team Rocket was nowhere to be found.
Otherwise, Viridian City hadn't left much of an impression. For all that it was Wizard Lenin and Lily's first encounter with human civilization, even after visiting the city twice the city twice they'd seen much more of every other city they'd been to.
These weren't her memories though. Instead it was the man's, and that made a world of difference.
The pokémon center didn't even appear on his radar, nor did Officer Jenny's small checkpoint. Instead, there was only one building of note. In the center of the city, surrounded by a lush park with an artful gravel path, was what must be the city gym.
It was older looking than Pewter, Cerulean, and Vermillion City's gyms. Those had all been brightly painted, the whole building screaming the gym's pokémon type theme, and all in interesting architectural shapes.
While this building was large, it looked as if it had once been a mansion, or even a small palace. It was made of stone, the windows with carved sills, and the roof was a simple dull red. It was elegant, beautiful, and out of place.
There was no hint of what waited inside for the eager gym challenger.
She spared a glance for the man next to her.
He didn't look particularly fond of the building. There was no hint of nostalgia in his expression, but there was a certain spark of eagerness. Whatever he was doing here, Lily thought, for some reason he wanted to show off to her.
Though to be fair, she wasn't sure what this man really wanted; she felt as if she both knew him entirely too well and had no idea who he was. Even meeting him now for the first time, the first time awake even, she hadn't bothered with too many of your standard questions but instead eagerly followed along.
And she didn't know if it was instinct, familiarity, or habit that had her projecting what she felt like were typical Wizard Lenin feelings onto this guy.
Nevertheless, standing here with him now, Lily couldn't help but feel that it'd all progressed eerily fast.
"It's nice," Lily finally said when the silence went on too long.
He spared her a look with raised eyebrows.
"The building," Lily clarified, "It's very pretty."
He frowned as he considered it. Perhaps it'd never occurred to him that man-made structures could be beautiful before, could have a certain aesthetic to them. Lily had no idea what the world of men looked like to a true blue pokémon.
"We are not here to look at the building," he dismissed.
"Well, I figured," Lily said, "But, you know, just thought I should put it out there. It is a very nice building. The last gym I was at looked like one of those modern art exhibits made of crushed plastic."
By the look on his face he had no idea what any of that meant.
"Right," Lily prompted, "Let's get to it then."
'And get this over with' went unspoken.
He seemed to know what she was thinking regardless as he gave her a flat look. However, that turned into determination, as if Lily's lack of enthusiasm was merely a challenge to be overcome like any other.
And she couldn't help but wonder why her opinion mattered.
She wouldn't go and say it really mattered, but it clearly meant something. Something far more than nothing. Lily must have left an impression on him, large enough to help without a word and large enough to bring her here. Except, as much as she wracked her brains, she could only get that vague sensation of impossible familiarity.
She wordlessly followed him through the double doors.
On the inside, it looked a lot more like your typical gym. Instead of furniture there was a small arena, with the typical lines for an official pokémon match painted onto the floor and raised stands for spectators surrounding it.
There were no spectators today, but it wasn't empty either.
On one end, some dweeby kid who couldn't be much older than Ash—your typical pokémon trainer only just embarking on his journey, a few dozen Pidgies to his name. He lacked Ash's overconfidence though, or more likely, it had been stripped from him.
Instead he gritted his teeth, watching as his Sandshrew lay scraped and bleeding in front of him. He was clenching and unclenching his fists, undoubtedly fighting against the idea of withdrawing from the match and cutting his losses.
On the other end, a man lurked in the shadows, his face hidden in darkness and only his red designer suit visible. In front of him was a dark, grinning shadow of a pokémon with red eyes who clearly looked forward to spilling more of the Sandshrew's blood.
"That's him," Lily's companion noted, eyes on the red suit. "The human who found me."
Lily's eyes drifted back to the pokémon, to the Sandshrew who even now was trying to crawl forward and swipe at the shadow. The shadow let out a high-pitched demonic giggle as the claws swiped right through him with no effect.
It was just toying with his opponent.
Somewhere along the dark road of pokémon training, he'd started enjoying this, had become proud of it, even. Lily imagined he looked forward to these pokémon matches and what became of his opponents.
"Doesn't seem like much of a match," Lily said darkly.
"No," her companion agreed. "This is a local boy. Sometimes, they come to this gym first due to its convenient location, not realizing that there is a certain order to these things. He has had far more impressive battles than this."
"He?" Lily asked, her eyes drifting to the man and narrowing. "Is it really his battle when he has no skin in the game?"
"It's his strategy," her companion said, "And certainly his training."
"Training," Lily said contemptuously, "For this."
"Yes," she responded without hesitation.
Perhaps, if she'd been born in this world, she'd think nothing of it just like everyone else. She imagined she'd gleefully find her place here, her role, and take up the mantle as either master pokémon trainer or trained pokémon, depending on how her face happened to look in a mirror.
It wasn't her world though, and that meant she could see it from a distance. And what a sorry view it was.
Except she still couldn't see how they took it so easily.
She looked back at her companion. "Are you honestly telling me that you're looking forward to doing this kind of thing for him?"
"I am not training for pokémon matches, nor for any human," he said with a frown. "I observe the matches now and then, when time allows, but I do not partake in them."
"Then what's in it for him?" Lily asked with a small laugh. She motioned to the man who, as the boy finally conceded defeat and summoned his fallen Sandshrew back into its pokéball, stepped out of the shadows.
His face wasn't exactly ordinary, but it wasn't terribly remarkable either. Tan, dark cold eyes, a cruel smirk on his lips and a smug look of self-assurance. He looked like someone who wanted to be Wizard Lenin, thought he was Wizard Lenin, but would never quite manage it.
This was a man who thought that power could be bought through money and perhaps even pokémon.
He thought he was something because he managed to tell his slave to beat the shit out of some poor kid's oversized pigeon.
"For him?" her pale companion asked.
"A lesson in humanity," Lily said as she motioned to the oblivious subject of their conversation. "Nobody does something for nothing. Especially not someone like him."
Her companion looked confused, not as if that idea had never occurred to him, but as if he had no idea what she was even talking about. Wizard Lenin was a bad comparison, she suddenly realized. This was more like a Tom Riddle who was—naïve. Still cynical, still bitter, intelligent, and proud, and yet somehow naïve despite everything.
"How did you meet?" Lily pressed, moving up to the stands, no longer wanting to be near even the memory of these people. Her companion didn't follow, instead glaring up at her.
"I don't see how that's relevant," he noted.
Lily ignored him, propping her feet up against the row in front of her and putting her arms behind her head. She stared down as both the trainer and gym leader disappeared and left the arena empty and bloodstained.
"Humor me," she commanded.
Her nameless companion scowled. With a small jump, little more than a hop, he lifted off the ground and floated until he was standing in front of her. "If you must know, he found me."
"He found you," Lily repeated dully, eyebrows rising, because wasn't that even worse than she'd thought, "Isn't that convenient?"
"I was not hard to find," he responded, now with a cold amused smile. "Not if you knew what you were looking for."
He sat next to her, joining her in staring out at the gym, and with a wave of his hand changed their scenery. Suddenly they were seated at the edge of the cliff overlooking the sunset and endless sea. Lily turned around and only had a moment to take in the smoking remains of buildings, the man in red standing among them, before the scene faded back into the gym.
"My power, my potential, intrigued him," her companion explained. "He had no reason to lie."
"Perhaps," Lily said dully.
Perhaps she was cynical, perhaps she was tired, perhaps morbid curiosity would be enough to motivate someone like that. If her companion—whoever this guy even was—was happy, if he wasn't being forced to fight against his will, then why should she stop him? More power to him, even if it all sounded sketchy as hell to her.
Every time Lily tried to intervene, she just ended up blowing up towns or laying eggs.
As everyone had told her, Lily was chasing a dream no one but her wanted realized.
Maybe, this time at least, it was best she just sit down and shut up.
"And what of your human companion?" the man asked suddenly, a shrewd look in his purple eyes. "Does he stay with you for nothing?"
Lily laughed; she couldn't help it. She thought of the past, the very beginning, and it only made her laugh harder, because where could she even start?
"Well, Lenin and I go way back," Lily said as her laughter died. "It's—God, we're only a few years short of ten years now."
They had first spoken when she was five, that strange, surreal meeting that had changed the course of her life. Sometimes, despite all of Hogwarts and this world, it seemed like it was only just yesterday that she'd tumbled into her own mindscape.
Her companion didn't seem impressed, and he shouldn't be, because that was hardly all of it.
"But no, he never stayed with me for nothing either. Lenin, above all others, never does anything for nothing," Lily clarified. "In the beginning, when we first met—he desperately needed my help. But he always admitted it, was always up front about who he was and exactly what he wanted, and I—I didn't care."
It wasn't just that he'd been new, shiny, and able to see her in a way no one ever had before. It wasn't just that he was stuck with her, that he needed her, but something more than that. She knew what he was, she always had, but that had never mattered.
Even now, when he was outside her head, it still didn't matter.
"I still don't care," Lily continued. "I mean, it's not exactly the sort of friendship you see on television, but—we know why we're here. There's no secrets between us, no hidden motivations or schemes. I'd do anything for him and I think he might do anything for me."
She was undoubtedly saying it wrong, losing something terribly important in translation, and she was sure it sounded hollow at best.
He probably wondered what made Wizard Lenin so different from these other humans. He wasn't wrong; if they belonged to this world, Lily probably would be his pokémon and he her master. She'd admitted as much before, feared Wizard Lenin would eagerly go down that path if the way back home was closed to them. Even in their own world that wasn't—it wasn't an unapt comparison.
And yet, there was so much more between them than that. So many small moments, so many years, so many smiles, cries of rage, and pits of despair. They had killed Quirrell—his original soul—together.
For half a day they'd even been hopelessly in love and had a child—egg—thing. Not that Lily or Wizard Lenin were sure what to do with any of that, but it was worth thinking about.
That wasn't nothing.
"Maybe I'm a hypocrite," she finally said, and the words felt damning, but she forced them out anyway, as if they meant nothing. "Maybe the reason I'm so—bothered by everything is that it just strikes a little close to home. Maybe I worry about—about being used and now see it everywhere."
Not so much Wizard Lenin, but there were other moments.
Hermione Granger. Lily suddenly saw her face from the beginning of their second year, the way she'd looked at Lily and finally seen something of the real her. Finally seen something, and the first thing she'd done was ask Lily for a favor as if she was entitled to it—
It had certainly reminded Lily of her place in Hermione Granger's world.
"Maybe I'm just a stranger in a strange land," Lily finished with a laugh, shaking herself out of her memories.
She motioned to the empty arena. "But your friend over there, with his designer suits, his perfect teeth, and his desire to help you out of sheer curiosity—one of those things is a lie."
For a moment the man said nothing, just stared out with her to where the gym leader had disappeared, and then asked quietly, "And what could he possibly want from me?"
"Power," Lily said as if it was the easiest thing in the world.
That, she was sure of.
There were some, like Ash, where pokémon fights were about friendship. Misguided, arrogant, ambitious fool that Ash was, he didn't fake the way he cared about his pokémon, even if he obliviously used them for his own ends.
She remembered AJ in his gym, the way he'd worked his pokémon through hell and back to chase glory. He'd cared about them, but he'd cared about glory more. She remembered Team Rocket who stole their pokémon from better trainers for some unknown purpose. She remembered that man on the St. Anne who had been all too eager to sell off his losing pokémon to Ash.
It was about power.
"And that is why you've chosen not to be trained?" her companion pressed.
"I've chosen not to be trained or to train anyone else because pokémon fighting is evil," Lily said, confidence returning as her eyes moved back to the arena. "I've seen that much, been forced to see that much, no matter how foreign and biased I am. I don't know about pokémon training, or friendships with pokémon, or how to even fix it except maybe by collecting a bunch of shiny rocks, but that doesn't mean I should go along with it either."
"My battles will be my own," she declared. "Even if they're for Lenin, it'll be me who undertakes them."
There, that was what she meant, that was what she was looking for.
They were his wars and always would be, not Ellie Potter's or even Lily's, but if she lent a hand then it was her choice to do so. That she'd always chosen to, had never considered another road in life, meant nothing.
And that was the difference.
"You don't need people like him," Lily said, motioning down to the arena. "Help him, if you want to, but realize that you're helping him with something and choose to do it. Don't just let him use you, especially not for something this—this petty."
Her eyes landed back on the arena, thinking on all the pokémon and trainers who must have come through here. How many times had they scrubbed blood from that floor? And for what?
When she'd first come here, she'd thought it sounded so wonderful, so easy. Become a pokémon master, that was all you had to do, all you had to strive for in all the world. It was still that easy, still that simple, but it was all the hollower for it.
Lily should have known that nothing true, nothing real, could ever be that easy.
The man next to her had gone curiously silent. Glancing over at him, he looked not only pensive, but disturbed. The gym around them was flickering, the laboratory they'd left behind appearing through cracks in the air. Lily wondered if perhaps she'd said too much.
"Look, it's just my opinion," she reassured him. "God knows, nobody has agreed with me so far."
"Either they agree, and they don't care," she said, thinking of Pikachu and then Clefairy, "Or they agree because they want me to become a god. I don't think anyone has ever really taken me seriously."
"Do I approve?" Lily asked, "No, not really, but it's your life. The whole point I'm trying to make is that no one, including me, should tell you what to do."
She fell into an awkward silence, waiting for him to say something or else do something. The air around them, however, kept shaking, and now the gym was almost completely gone. The laboratory, not just dark and abandoned, but beginning to burn around them.
Why did she feel like she'd accidentally gone and done something very stupid?
Lily tried to edge away from the flames, only to find that they were climbing nearly every surface. The very walls were crumbling around them, glass shattering in the heat, and the air wavered with smoke and heat.
Half out of real curiosity and half to jar him out of his growing existential crisis, she asked, "Still want me to come to Viridian City?"
The flames abruptly vanished, and he lifted his head to stare straight at her, almost as if he had forgotten she was there. "Yes."
Except she wasn't sure she liked the look in his eyes.
Now that everything wasn't on fire she let herself relax somewhat, trying to pretend this was all a normal conversation, and that she wasn't dearly wishing she'd convinced him to take her back to her body with no detours.
"Oh," she said slowly, "And you'll still help—I mean, you'll look into Lenin and me crossing dimensions?"
"Yes," he repeated, but his tone revealed nothing. He didn't sound eager or resentful, not wary or curious, just a flat simple yes.
"Good," Lily said slowly, finding the chair she'd been sitting in last time she showed up in the laboratory. "That's good. Really, I'm sure whatever you're doing there is great."
And Lily couldn't help but notice that somehow, in some impossible way, she and this guy had ended up back exactly where they'd started.
If her luck kept up like this, she'd never make it to her body, Wizard Lenin would blow up an entire town in revenge fueled rage, and the egg would hatch into Rabbit 2.0 while she was in a coma.
She wondered if she should remind him that finding her body was what she'd asked for in the first place. However, he beat her to it—or rather, he beat her to breaking the silence.
"I have been used by men before," he suddenly said, his hands clenching and unclenching, "My creators, they certainly did not make me for mere curiosity."
"Your…" Lily trailed off, not sure how to take that. "Your creators?"
He looked at her as if she was an imbecile, and that, that look was a very Tom Riddle look to give another person. "I was made, not born."
He motioned around them. "In this very laboratory, in fact, by men who no longer exist in this world or any other."
He sneered down at the broken monitors. "They did not expect me to develop sentience. I was to be little more than an experiment."
"Oh, yes, that is—" Lily tried to find the words and failed. "Probably not what they expected."
That wasn't what she had expected either.
So far, none of the locals had brought up anyone making a pokémon before. That hadn't been on their list of theories for what the hell was up with Lily. She'd like to think that if there were pokémon creating factories or something it would have come up.
Except, well, psychics hadn't come up for practically two months, and you'd think with Wizard Lenin blowing up everything someone would have dropped that word here and there. So, maybe they had conveniently forgotten to mention that some pokémon were bred in test tubes.
He didn't even seem to notice Lily's surprise though. He wasn't looking at her, instead glaring at the tube in the front of the room, fingers rapidly tapping against the desk.
Before Lily could press on with that whole being made in a lab thing, he said, "Do not come to Viridian City."
"But you just said—"
"If this man, my—master, is what you suspect he is, then I will not stay in Viridian City," he said, and the way he said it, you could tell that this wasn't just because he'd leave Viridian City but also because he'd make sure Viridian City was wiped off the face of the Earth.
"Hey, as someone who just destroyed a small town," Lily piped in, "Try to remember that he's just one guy—there's a lot of other—"
"Humans," he interjected.
"Humans aren't all bad—"
"You are not human," he spoke over her again. "Do not fool yourself into believing you are one for their convenience."
"I wasn't saying I'm human," Lily clarified, even as she motioned to her incredibly human looking face. "Just that—they're not all the scum of the earth."
"Because of your human friend?" he sneered.
"What, Lenin?" Lily asked in surprise. "Well—actually no, he's an ass. I mean, he's very up front about it and it's certainly never gotten in the way of our friendship, but—let's not use him as an example."
"There's people like—" She abruptly trailed off, wracking her brains to think of someone who'd be the perfect example. However, everyone who flashed through their mind, especially from this world, had some black mark against them somehow.
Ash was compassionate and kind, but more eager than anyone to become a pokémon master no matter what the cost might be. Brock wanted to be a pokémon breeder, for God's sake. Misty wasn't so bad, she had tried to save a coral reef, but she was a trainer just like all the rest.
"They're not that bad," Lily insisted. "They mean well, most of the time."
For a moment, he only stared, and then just like that he softened and smiled at her. It was an oddly fond expression, one she imagined he didn't wear often.
"They do not deserve the faith they engineered in you," he said.
"Engineered?" Lily asked, now extremely confused. "Hold up, nobody engineered anything—"
He held out a hand to her in offering. "I will take you back to your body. When I am ready, either finished training or—I will find you."
Lily nodded slowly as she took his hand and pulled herself to her feet. "I'll just be trying to earn badges or something, I shouldn't be too hard to find."
He seemed amused by that, probably the idea that it would take him much of anything to find her. For a second, he just held her hand in his, and looking down at her asked, "Do you truly wish to change the world? To free the pokémon from mankind's grasp?"
"Yes?" Lily ventured slowly, before clarifying with some alarm, "I mean, I won't kill everyone in the world to do it, but—it'd be nice?"
He gave no reaction, just a small hum that neither agreed nor disagreed. He just pulled on her hand and led her back out of the laboratory and through the abyss.
And it was funny, because without the detour, it hardly took any time before Lily was spluttering back into awareness wondering if the whole thing had been a dream.
"Ugh," was the first thing she managed to say as she slowly sat up, her real, physical body feeling like it was made of lead.
For a moment, the world was blurry, but as it came into focus, she couldn't help but notice she was no longer in the woods.
The little girl in white was not entirely gone. The girl was, but she'd been replaced by an eerily similar doll, resting on the lap of a young, stony-eyed woman. The woman sat on what looked like a throne, Lily lying on the ground right beneath her feet.
Lily turned, and there was the rest of them. Ash, Brock, Misty, and Lily's pokémon friends stood on the far side of an arena painted onto the floor. In the painted box reserved for the challenger was Wizard Lenin, Pikachu out in front of him with cheeks sparking in determination and rage, facing some sort of oversized mustached cat holding a spoon.
Wizard Lenin hardly even glanced at her; he only had eyes for the woman.
"Lily, you're alright!" Ash repeated with a grin, actual tears in his eyes.
"Hey guys," Lily said, lifting a hand weakly. "Sorry that took so long I—had to give some guy emotional support or something."
Was that what had just happened with the pale guy in the laboratory? Lily didn't even know.
"Watch out!" Misty shouted, only for Lily to be hit with a sudden force out of nowhere, throwing her from the steps of the throne and into the arena with the other two pokémon.
"What the hell—" Lily started.
"Sabrina's psychic," Brock noted. "She's the one who put you in a coma! She nearly turned the rest of us into dolls last time Ash battled her."
Ash balked. "Oh yeah, well, Lenin's the one who said we had to go back!"
"He wasn't blaming you, Ash!" Misty cried out, "He was just explaining that Sabrina's really dangerous! Lenin can only battle her because he's psychic too."
"Oh, right," Ash said lamely.
Lily staggered to her feet and looked briefly at Pikachu's opponent, and then at the woman herself. There was something wrong with her. Even at a glance, she looked broken in a way Lily couldn't properly describe.
Her back was perfectly straight as she sat up there, holding that doll on her lap the way one might an orb and scepter, and there was no expression on her face. However, rather than look like a monarch, she looked like a cheap doll herself.
It would take nothing, Lily thought, to break her into pieces.
Lily held out her hand towards her. "The marsh badge, if you don't mind."
Sabrina made no move, or at least no physical move, and without a word Lily sent her toppling out of her throne and onto the ground with the rest of them. Lily kept her hand held out and simply said, "Don't force me to break you."
For a moment, the woman, Sabrina, simply looked up at Lily. There was a hint of something that was almost an expression on her face, but her eyes were still terribly empty. For that moment, her mind silently battled against Lily's. Lily could feel her power pushing at her, at all of them, creating a small windstorm around them.
They both knew it was useless.
She wouldn't have thrown Lily out of the game so early if she thought she could win.
Eventually the wind died. A twinkling marsh badge appeared out of thin air and fell into Lily's palm.
Without another word, Lily turned and walked towards Wizard Lenin. She passed by Pikachu and the other pokémon, barely glancing at them as Pikachu suddenly turned back with hers. She walked as if there was still strength in her legs, as if her soul didn't still feel disconnected from her flesh.
When she reached Wizard Lenin in his small painted box, she collapsed into his arms and pressed the badge into his hands with a smile. "This is yours."
He'd come back for her. He'd battled not for a badge but for her. Even if Lily had found her own way back, she knew he'd done all the real work. Besides, he had to earn one of these, didn't he? Ash would never let him hear the end of it otherwise.
He shook his head with a fond, exasperated smile and pushed the badge back to her. "I didn't do this for a polished rock, Lily."
How had she almost forgotten that?
It had never been nothing between them.
She laughed, and she wondered if he knew the joke because he laughed with her, pulled her closer to him, and squeezed her tight. "You're never allowed to do that again."
"I'll try," she said. "On the upside, I may have found us a lead."
"Good, because I've found nothing," he said with a sharp laugh. "I was—distracted."
Distracted. She knew that wasn't really the word he meant, it was just the easiest one for him to say. That was fine, she didn't have the right words either, not even as he helped her hobble out of the gym without even glancing back at the gym leader they'd left on the floor.
They travelled out of the city not long after, just as the sun was beginning to set, none of them eager to linger. Wizard Lenin and Lily walked together, Lily still leaning on him perhaps a little more than she should, but he didn't seem to mind.
For the first time in days, it felt as if that egg wasn't between them.
Ash, unlike usual, lagged behind and threw constant looks over his shoulder at the fading city.
As the long road stretched out in front of them, the next city and badge ahead, Ash let out a long sigh. "I guess that means I don't get to battle her again."
"Why would you want to battle her again?" Brock asked with raised eyebrows. "Don't you remember the last time?"
"I need that badge if I want to get to the Indigo League," Ash said, "And I'm not afraid to try again. I'd become a psychic if I had to—"
"It doesn't work like that," Wizard Lenin said shortly.
"I know, I heard that guy the first time," Ash said bitterly, "And I can't believe you were psychic the whole time."
"It never seemed relevant," Wizard Lenin said, as if his powerful magical abilities had simply never come up before now rather than something he'd kept carefully hidden.
"We could go to Lavender Town and catch a ghost pokémon like that guy said," Ash pointed out, only to receive a death glare from Wizard Lenin.
"We go to Lavender Town," Wizard Lenin began in that quiet voice that spelled death and despair to whoever heard it, "To that tower crawling with Ghastly, and I will burn it to the ground."
"Oh, come on," Ash said. "That last Ghastly didn't even do anything to you and Lily! He spent the whole time tormenting the rest of us while you guys were off doing who knows what."
Ash let out a squeak as the spot where he'd just been standing erupted into flame. "Alright, fine, we won't go!"
Still, he looked back over his shoulder with a suddenly determined smile. "Someday though, someday I'll come back and win that badge."
Lily sighed and, glancing down at her own marsh badge, she created a duplicate and tossed it to Ash. "Take it, it's a gift."
"What?!" Ash squawked, looking down at it in confusion, awe, and horror. "But—that's—that's cheating."
"She turned you into dolls and put me in a coma," Lily said. "I say she deserves what she gets."
"But, I didn't—"
"Do you want me to take it back?" Lily asked.
"Yes!" he said, "Because if I'm earning it then I'm earning it—"
"You managed to rescue a princess from a tower," Lily said, motioning to herself grandly. "Just take the stupid badge."
Ash glared down at it, grumbled, and put it into his vest. "I don't like it. And someday I'll come back and get a real one."
Of course he would. Someday, just like Lily would save the world, she and Wizard Lenin would go home, Ash would get that marsh badge for real.
And somewhere out there, someday perhaps soon, the pale pokémon in a lab coat would come looking for her.
She was sure of it.
Author's Note: I just love Mew-Two's "wait a second" moments as it all starts to become clear to him. Sometimes, you just need someone to spell it out for you. Or to be given a blatant gift of battle armor and told to beat up ten-year-old's pokemon friends.
Thanks to the magnificent GlassGirlCeci for betaing the chapter. Thanks to readers and reviewers, reviews are much appreciated.
Disclaimer: I don't own pokemon or Harry Potter